Quick-Thoughts: Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth (1991)

Jim Jarmusch Marathon Part V of VII

“Some people have got real troubles.”

Night on Earth is another anthology attempt by Jim Jarmusch — this time an even busier one — and adverse to his previous feature-length that demonstrated the interconnectivity of a shared celebrity influence, it rather demonstrates the interconnectivity of cultural collisions. All of it seems to result in the idea that the end shock of these phenomena usually occur from our incremental realizations that not everybody wants to be or wants to want the same things as what our preconceived perceptions of human desires are based on our singular experience. Solipsist conformity has shortened our understanding of what the people of our planet are really like, and the array of specialized stereotypes that are assigned to each individual certainly don’t help with abstracting us from that habit. We do often believe others lead different lives than ours, yet ironically also believe that these different lives must want what we want. Either that, in which some people simply don’t seek what our definition of an ideal life would be, or the latter: we go in thinking that they aren’t seeking that ideal life in the first place because of their differences when they always were. We constantly forget how similar and different people are, despite how insanely easy of a concept that literally sounds in words; Jarmusch does a solid job at authenticating this reality through five “awe”-evoking taxi cab stories: the hotspot for brief stranger to stranger confrontations. 

It’s all sprinkled with a little plot-karma too not to mention — it’s not quite a Jarmusch if there aren’t some fable elements in it as well, but in the case of this and Mystery Train (1989), they’ve been my least favorite parts about them. Abruptly on-the-nose stuff works on-and-off for this caviller depending on how much the narrative connects with me in the first place; the stronger the more forgivable, I suppose; my love for Stranger Than Paradise (1984)’s ending hardcore proves this. 

Verdict: B

Jim Jarmusch Ranked

“Night on Earth” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel and HBO Max.

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